American Mega-Church Pastor Joel Osteen Under Fire
Love him or not – What’s important are the facts of the story.
It’s remarkable how one person with a cell phone video, Tweet, Facebook post, or picture can cause immediate social-media-to-mainstream-media pandemonium.
As Hurricane Harvey continues to batter Texas, some media and roaming “videographers” with a bone to pick are battering Joel Osteen and his mega-church, Lakewood. But reports of the 16,000 seat former arena and now church turning down people looking for refuge from the storm are inflated.
According to Osteen, who made the mainstream American morning news rounds yesterday, the facilities people who operate his stadium church weren’t immediately available, and they were concerned about severe flooding, documented by pictures, but ignored until recently. They did, and have, opened their doors, as they did during Katrina; but not fast enough for some.
Osteen told Gayle King of CBS News that the City set up a shelter four miles from the church, and wanted Osteen’s Lakewood to be a distribution centre, until need was so great, they opened the church as a shelter. Osteen said, “We’ve been helping people for 60 years, we could have been a shelter from day one if the City wanted that.”
But the controversy still continues.
According to Snopes, social media posts about Osteen passing out copies of his book from his yacht around Houston in the wake of Hurricane are false.
Snopes also reports on the flooding at the church – showing various cell phone shots versus pictures of flooding provided by the church.
Newstalk 1130 out of Milwakee Wisconsin also reports on the true pictures and rumours.
In the wake of such tragedy, the focus should be on recovery efforts, stories of heroism, and the spirit of Texans who will come through this. We all have ‘feet of clay,’ but one thing is clear – the facts seem to be getting murkier depending on the issue and the person.